A CONVICTED people smuggler from Bolton - who tried to bring four Albanians into the UK in the back of his van - has been jailed for four-and-a-half years.

Gary Giles, 60, tried to hide the quartet under bin liners, as he brought them into this country from Spain, via the docks at Portsmouth.

But Giles, who had initially boarded a boat in Santander, was caught with the four men in his vehicle shortly afterwards, the city's crown court was told.

Border Force officers found the stowaways hidden behind bin liners filled with cushions and foam, the court heard, with a holdall containing their personal possessions also seized.

The Albanian nationals, none of whom had any right to be in the UK, were later handed over to the Home Office's immigration enforcement unit.

An investigation by the unit's criminal and financial investigation team discovered that Giles had driven for hundreds of miles with the men in the rear of the vehicle.

Giles, of Bishopsbridge Close, Great Lever, had pleaded not guilty to four offences of doing an act to facilitate the commission of an offence contrary to UK immigration law.

But court officials confirmed he was convicted of all charges after a four-day trial in late April.

Giles, who was said to have 19 previous convictions recorded for 46 criminal offences, was jailed by Recorder Jeremy Williams at the same court.

The court was told that Giles may not have been the prime mover behind the people smuggling enterprise - and another man named in court held a more senior role in the operation.

But the judged ruled that the defendant would have been aware of the consequences and had probably entered into the arrangement for financial gain.

Portsmouth is a frequent target for people smugglers. Earlier this year two men from Luton were jailed for 10 years.

Prosecutors said their efforts were 'Laurel and Hardy' like after they used their own names on ferry tickets and forgot to refuel their van.